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Marriott Bonvoy is the loyalty program for 30 hotel brands all over the world. Here’s everything you need to know.
Marriott Bonvoy is an amalgamation of Marriott Rewards, Ritz-Carlton Rewards and Starwood Preferred Guest and it awards points at more than 8,000 properties under the Marriott umbrella. One of the largest loyalty programs in the world, Marriott Bonvoy has 160 million members and is one of the most flexible rewards currencies in the hotel industry.
Marriott has 30 hotel brands featuring a variety of price levels, room types and features. The brand has properties like Fairfield, Four Points by Sheraton and Residence Inn that do not offer a restaurant but do provide breakfast for guests. Extended Stay brands like Courtyard by Marriott, Townplace Suites and Marriott Executive Apartments offer long-term guests a home away from home with suites that feature kitchenettes and separate sleeping and living spaces. Luxury brands such as Ritz-Carlton, St. Regis and JW Marriott provide excellent amenities for the top end of the market. From classic, upper-crust, historical properties to chic and modern, there’s plenty of luxury at Marriott. Full-service hotels like Sheraton, Marriott, and Element complement Westin, Le Meridien and Renaissance properties often in business markets. Lifestyle brands such as Autograph give guests something extra in the form of style and design. Here is every Marriott brand by category:
Marriott (Full-service, business hotels)
Delta (Full-service, business hotels)
Westin (Full-service, business hotels)
Sheraton (Full-service, business hotels)
Le Meridien (Full-service, business hotels)
Renaissance (Full-service, business hotels)
Protea (Select service)
Four Points by Sheraton (Select service)
Aloft (Select service)
Element (Select service)
Residence Inn (Select service)
AC Hotels (Select service)
Fairfield (Select service)
Moxy (Select service)
Springhill Suites (Extended stay)
Courtyard by Marriott (Extended stay)
Marriott Executive Apartments (Extended stay)
TownePlace Suites (Extended stay)
JW Marriott (Luxury)
St. Regis (Luxury)
The Luxury Collection (Luxury)
W Hotels (Luxury)
Marriott Vacation Club (Timeshares)
Simply by joining Marriott Bonvoy for free, members add benefits to their stay. Even if you rarely stay in Marriott hotels, you will have access to free high-speed internet and a digital room key (accessed by smartphone in equipped hotels), and you’ll also earn points for your stay and have access to discounted cash rates.
Frequent guests have special privileges bestowed upon them the more they stay with the chain. With Marriott Bonvoy, guests qualify for status by staying a certain number of qualifying nights. Top-tier guests must spend $20,000 at the hotel each year, excluding taxes and fees.
You qualifying for the program based on nights spent in one of the hotels in the Marriott Bonvoy program. For example, landing on Saturday night and departing one week later will result in seven qualifying nights. Some Marriott Bonvoy credit cards provide 15 nights that count toward status. By holding those cards, requirements are reduced.
As one of the largest chains in the world with millions of members, creating value for a multitude of frequent guests is a challenge. Elite tiers allow the chain to reward its most loyal guest with various perks. You can also move up elite tiers faster with a Marriott Bonvoy credit card. If you don’t have one, be sure to read Why The Marriott Bonvoy Credit Card May Be The Best For Travelers. Marriott has a total of six tiers to their loyalty program:
Marriott Bonvoy Member (General, sign up online, at a hotel or over the phone)
Marriott Bonvoy Silver Elite (10 nights)
Marriott Bonvoy Gold Elite (25 nights)
Marriott Bonvoy Platinum Elite (50 nights)
Marriott Bonvoy Titanium Elite (75 nights)
Marriott Bonvoy Ambassador Elite (100+ nights and $20,000 hotel spend)
The benefits provided are numerous across the elite levels. Below is a chart from the Marriott Bonvoy website. Most chains add benefits at each tier that include the previous tiers as well. Marriott Bonvoy follows this logic with the exception of their highest tier which does not have dedicated elite support nor the Annual Choice benefits, though guests should receive the choice benefits as they ascend through the elite status levels. Elite status earned has been extended through February 2023.
Marriott Bonvoy’s Best Benefits
There’s a lot to love about Marriott Bonvoy, especially at the Titanium and Ambassador elite tiers.
Top Off Awards
Bonvoy has come up with a clever way to redeem free hotel night certificates earned with its co-branded credit cards. The current certificates allow for a free night redemption at any property charging 35,000 points or less. However, going forward Bonvoy guests can “top off” those awards with additional points to stay at properties that charge more. For example, if a guest wanted to stay at a 70,000 point per night property, they could still utilize their certificates while adding another 35,000 points in the redemption. That said, certificates used for stays costing less than 35,000 points per night are not refunded the difference.
Platinum, Titanium and Ambassador Elites have access to breakfast in the hotel restaurant for properties that serve it. Some properties may offer breakfast in the executive lounge for elites instead of the hotel restaurant. Select Service properties like Fairfield may also offer breakfast to all guests regardless of status. The best part of Marriott Bonvoy’s breakfast benefit is that it also allows guests to choose that hotel amenity or points instead. Some properties apply restrictions to the breakfast amenity, for example, limiting the breakfast selection or billable amount. Some may offer room service as opposed to restaurant-only dining, while others allow guests to choose the lounge or the restaurant. It’s important to ask at check-in what the benefit allows at each specific property for those who qualify.
Platinum, Titanium and Ambassador members are eligible for upgrades to one-bedroom suites. Platinum and Titanium members can also secure suite upgrades confirmed in advance for up to ten nights per year. All suite upgrades are subject to availability, however, suite nights confirmed in advance must be available for the length of the stay. If a guest has three suite night upgrades remaining and the suite is available for just one night, very few properties are willing to honor the request as moving guests during their stay can be difficult.
Airlines Transfer Bonuses
One of the most popular features of the Starwood Preferred Guest program that merged with Marriott was airline transfer bonuses. Marriott Bonvoy adopted this popular program which allows guests to transfer Bonvoy points to an airline of their choice at a 3:1 ratio. However, for each 60,000 Marriott Bonvoy points that a guest transfers, instead of receiving 20,000 airline miles they receive 25,000 (usually enough for a domestic roundtrip in economy class.) Of the 38 airline loyalty programs with which Bonvoy members can transfer their points, two exceptions to the transfer rate apply:
Air New Zealand (200 Bonvoy points to 1 Airpoint)
United (3 Bonvoy points to 1.1 MileagePlus miles)
In the case of Air New Zealand, the adjustment is due to the uniqueness of that programs. In the case of United, there is a special 10% transfer bonus. This one key benefit makes Marriott Bonvoy points some of the most flexible and valuable.
Hotel and Airfare Packages
A unique aspect of Marriott Bonvoy is its Hotel and Airfare packages which allow Bonvoy members to spend their points on awards that provide both hotel accommodations and airline frequent flyer miles to offset the cost of a vacation. These packages are a great value for road warriors who drive to business destinations and stay in Marriott properties but do not often fly for work. At the entry level, 255,000 Bonvoy points provides enough miles to fly two passengers just about anywhere in the U.S. and include a seven-night stay in up to a Category 4 property. To take a family of four on the same trip, just 75,000 more points are needed to give the Marriott Bonvoy guest 110,000 airline miles plus the same Category 1-4 stay.
Reciprocal United MileagePlus Status
Titanium and Ambassador members enjoy reciprocal status with United Airlines. MileagePlus Silver elite status allows the most frequent Marriott Bonvoy guests to enjoy complimentary upgrades to Economy Plus, upgrades to first-class seats if available at check-in, one complimentary checked bags up to 70 pounds, Premier Access expedited security where available and a 40% mileage bonus over general members.
Shortcuts to Marriott Bonvoy Status
The traditional route to Marriott Bonvoy status is to stay the required number of nights per desired status level, however, there are a couple of shortcuts guests can take to achieve a higher level.
Credit Card Night Credits
Marriott Bonvoy credit cards offer 15 to 25 nights toward status for cardholders. The 15-night bonus alone would be enough to make Platinum status with just 35 more nights. However, consumers who also have businesses (even home-based businesses like selling items on eBay) can add a business card as well and add another 15 nights toward status.
Marriott Bonvoy sometimes extends status challenges to members without status or at a lower tier. Challenges offer reduced requirements to achieve a status tier. This is often equivalent to just over 1/4 of the requirements in a 90-day period. Past challenges have offered Platinum status for completing 18 nights in a three-month period.
Multiple Room Nights
Some families book more than one room for their stay when bringing family or friends along. Members can earn Base Points on up to two rooms per night. Traveling workers can also book for their co-workers to earn more base points accelerating status earning.
While it may seem like a huge requirement for some, those who plan group travel for their peers or company can secure one night toward status for every 20-room meeting block they book. A sales manager booking for his team or customer events may be able to shorten their path to elite status by booking meetings several times annually.
Marriott Bonvoy Removes Award Charts
The program shifted to dynamic pricing for award stays in March 2022. Dynamic pricing attributes a fixed amount to each point which offsets the cost of the nightly stay. That’s hard to follow so let me provide an example: If the value of a Marriott Bonvoy point was 0.5¢, then a hotel night that costs $200 would require 40,000 points (200/.005). Similarly, if a hotel costs $93 it would require 18,600 points per night at the same fixed value per point. The challenge for a chain such as Marriott and its myriad of franchise owners is that some properties, especially resorts, may be very busy during peak travel periods but less busy outside of those periods. As such, a property that might sell for $1,000 a night during peak periods might not have the occupancy levels for the year to justify a large number of points required for a free night. Those hoteliers face a difficult situation as they allow award redemptions when they are very busy and could sell rooms to paying guests but instead get very little money for award stays. The hotels must allow for award redemptions to stay in compliance with the program. Suites and Lobbies has valued Bonvoy points at 0.45¢ a point.
Earning vs. Burning Points
It’s very important that members of any loyalty program closely watch both how they earn and burn their points. Standard earning rates are 10 points per $1 spent (excluding taxes and fees) at most Marriott properties. The exclusions to this list are Element, Residence Inn and TownePlace Suites where guests earn half as many (5 points per dollar). Elite status increases earnings relative to the tier, climbing all the way to 20 points per dollar. If a guest completes a weeklong stay in Beijing for $1,400 (no taxes, and fees included) they will accrue 14,000 points which is worth about $70 in redemption value. However, if the guest earns the top rate (20 points per dollar) and participates in a 2,000 point bonus per stay promotion, the guest would earn 30,000 points or $150 (assumed) value – a roughly 10% return on their spend. That can add up to big savings on future trips.
Cash Plus Points
To give Bonvoy members more flexibility to use their points, the program also allows for point redemptions to be combined with cash. This allows members to conserve their points by offsetting half the cost per night with cash. A word of caution when booking with points and cash. Some redemptions for premium awards may be a combination of cash and points but at a severe cost. In the below example you’ll see that points and cash redemptions for this stay actually cost more than a standard room for cash without spending any points. How can this be? The property has only made suites available for award redemptions, so standard rooms are available for cash while only premium rooms can be used with cash and points. It’s within the program’s rules, but it’s intentionally tricky.
Both of the best partner relationships are a result of the Starwood Preferred Guest loyalty program that was merged with Marriott Rewards to create Marriott Bonvoy. It was wise of Marriott leadership to hold onto these key benefits rather than let them fall away in the transition.
Believe it or not, some collect Marriott Bonvoy points just to transfer elsewhere. SPG’s transfer bonus was one reason why members did this, but it’s also one of the most flexible currencies in its own right due to the sheer number of partners. For example, American Express Membership Rewards transfers to less than 20 airlines and Chase Ultimate Rewards to less than a dozen. Bonvoy points are transferable to more than 35 (see above section on transfer bonuses.)
Marriott Bonvoy Moments
Marriott Bonvoy offers more options to redeem its rewards than just free hotel nights or transfers to airlines. One of the most exciting ways to use Bonvoy points is redeeming them for unique Marriott Bonvoy Moments. SPG offered amazing events like throwing out the first pitch in Game 7 of the World Series for members to use their points to buy or bid in auctions. Some of these are truly once-in-a-lifetime events, others might be an intimate members-only concert. You will find a our ultimate guide to Marriott Bonvoy Moments both informative and eye-opening.
Marriott Bonvoy is a huge program befitting such a large and diverse collection of properties. Bonvoy points can be used to enter once-in-a-lifetime events, transferred to more airline partners than any other program in the world and at a better rate as well. Bonvoy credit cards are a great way to fast track status and there are so many places to stay, across such a variety of budgets that Marriott Bonvoy should be a part of any traveller’s strategy. What do you think? Have you earned status or points in the Marriott Bonvoy program? What’s your favorite redemption?